The Q&A Archives: Tulip Sprouts Discoloring In The Sun

Question: Hello. I uncovered my tulips, which are in containers, after insulating them over the winter in a large box filled with leaves, mulch and newspapers. Some had already sprouted, so I put them in a sunny area on my deck. The sprouts have since turned a redish color and even the new sprouts are a little red at the tips. Did I put them in the sun too soon? If so is there anything I can do to bring them back to good health?

Answer: Based on your description I am not certain what the problem is -- or if there is a problem. Some varieties of tulip, especially among the early cottage and species types, have leaves that are mottled and reddish, so what you are seeing could be normal. Sun damage would normally look like the leaves are drying out rather than turning red. There is also a situation (crown rot) where leaves could turn red and then wilt, in which case the infection is also underground and the entire bulb and soil should be disposed of in the trash to prevent it infecting other plants. (The pot should also be sterilized.) But this last is very unusal in tulips and it would surprise me if that is it.

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